Beth Van Duyne (R-TX-24) was elected to represent North Texas in Congress in 2020 following a successful career in business consulting and local and national government. After serving from 2004-2010 on the Irving, TX city council, she was elected as that city’s first female mayor in 2011. In 2017, Van Duyne was appointed regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, where she led the agency’s disaster-recovery efforts at the Southwest border in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Van Duyne currently serves on the Aviation Subcommittee of the U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.
Q: Please tell us about the importance of aviation in serving the needs of your constituents.
I’m very proud to note that Texas’ 24th District is home to more aviation jobs than any other congressional district. Our district includes Addison Airport (ADS), which consistently ranks as one of our nation’s most active and vibrant general aviation airports.
The 24th District is also home to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), one of the world’s busiest international airports, and serves as headquarters for one of the world’s largest commercial airlines.
With 70 on-airport businesses, including several full-service FBOs and a variety of aircraft maintenance, flight instruction and charter operations, ADS is a critical economic driver for the northern portion of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. All told, the airport supports more than 3,200 jobs – and over 1,000 on the airport itself – representing more than $147 million in annual payroll and $467 million in yearly economic output to the region.
“I'm very proud to note that Texas’ 24th District is home to more aviation jobs than any other [district] in Congress.”
Even more important, the airport serves many vital roles in the overall transportation infrastructure, supporting the needs of more than 800,000 residents, from enabling local businesses and organizations to remain nimble and competitive through their use of business aviation, to providing an aerial link in the transportation of important cargo and enabling critical life-saving medevac services.
Of course, Addison Airport also functions as a welcoming gateway for those visiting the region, further helping our economy grow and thrive.
Q: North Texas has also seen the development of several emerging technologies, most notably unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and advanced air mobility (AAM). What are your thoughts on their potential role in transportation across cities like Dallas?
I am certainly excited by all the progress we’ve seen over the past few years toward the introduction of these emerging technologies. Anyone who’s driven in the metroplex can tell you that, while our highway and ground transportation networks are extensive, the possibility of AAM being part of our transit system could significantly improve our mobility.
It’s also very encouraging to see these concepts embraced by local officials, including the North Central Texas Council of Governments, which has partnerships with NASA to develop the necessary infrastructure and best practices supporting AAM operations. The Mobility Innovation Zone centered at the Alliance Airport (AFW) also has embraced these technologies.
“While our highway and ground transportation networks are extensive, the possibility of AAM networks being a part of our transit system could significantly improve our mobility. ”
While Alliance Airport lies outside my district, it is home to the Mobility Innovation Zone (MIZ), a unique landscape built on collaboration and opportunity. That combination works to connect people, places and ideas that push forward innovation in surface and air mobility. By leveraging its infrastructure, the MIZ offers mobility visionaries full access to an unparalleled testing ecosystem and partnerships essential to comprehensively test, scale and commercialize new technologies.
The MIZ also includes unmanned aircraft systems proving grounds that provide public- and private-sector stakeholders an opportunity to test, scale and commercialize their advanced aerial mobility technologies and solutions. This helps produce the desired safety and reliability outcomes needed to support rulemaking, standards and policy development.
Mobility Innovation Zone’s leading locations are places like Alliance Airport, which create rapid growth and change across the mobility industry and new opportunities for innovation in the movement of goods and people.
Q: Congress will soon begin deliberations on the next authorization of FAA funding and programs. What are your priorities in the upcoming FAA reauthorization in 2023?
This conversation highlights why it is critical to have a forward-looking debate on FAA reauthorization, as the agency must not only support our current national airspace system, which is second to none, but also meet the needs of future technologies like drones and AAM. We need to focus on safety, while maintaining innovation and technology advancements. It is critical that we do not sacrifice one to get to the other.
“I look forward to working with aviation industry stakeholders on an FAA reauthorization package that fully supports the development of a truly next-generation infrastructure.”
In the year ahead, I anticipate many healthy discussions about FAA reauthorization in the Aviation Subcommittee. I look forward to working with aviation industry stakeholders on a reauthorization package that fully supports the development of a truly next-generation infrastructure and maintains the role of the United States as the leader in aviation.
We have an opportunity to use this FAA reauthorization legislation to meet the current and near-future needs of airspace users while also embracing innovative technologies on the horizon that hold the potential to revolutionize air transportation across our country.